The uniquely Kiwi pastime of jumping off wharves, jetties, waterholes, bridges and dive platforms is about to get competitive.

The Z Manu World Champs, offering $30,000 worth of cash and prizes plus bragging rights, is inspiring us to make a splash. We consulted the country’s bomb authorities on places to take the plunge and the secret behind the perfect manu.

Bomblife New Zealand founder Hads Te Huia spends hours honing his technique at Kāwhia Wharf.

“That’s my No 1 favourite spot where I mastered the manu,” he says. “For us, it’s more than a sport – bombing is a way of life. Raglan is a mean spot, too. That’s where a lot of the champs have practised.”

The manu is the technique of folding into a ‘V’ shape for maximum vertical splash. There are five official techniques accepted in the world championships: Te Manu (The V Bomb), Te Tēpara (The Staple), Te Korirā (The Gorilla), Te Kāwhena (The Coffin) and Te Pōro Repo (The Cannonball).

“My uncle was my first bomb coach. He always said the main thing is to have fun. In fact, his advice was good for life in general. It was about not being scared to push through and challenge yourself.”

When he’s in the Bay of Plenty, Hads heads to Poripori waterhole, McLaren Falls, Kaiate Falls or Tauranga waterfront. Whangamatā Wharf is a favourite on the Coromandel and Wellington waterfront is popular.

“People see bombing as fun but it’s not just jumping in the water. There’s a spiritual side to it with water cleansing the body and refreshing the mind and soul.”

Creator of the Z Manu World Champs Scott Rice hopes it’s a positive event for young Kiwis to work towards and be proud of.

“It brings a professionalism to something we love,” he says. “Murrays Bay Wharf and Lake Pupuke Jetty are two of my childhood favourite places to manu. Then there are jetties at Stanley Bay and Torpedo Bay, Birkenhead Wharf, and there’s a cool campground at Kai Iwi Lakes in Northland that has a great water hole.”

Scott recommends Pataua South Bridge, about 25km east of Whangārei, and in the Bay of Islands, there’s the wharf at Russell and the bridge near Waitangi Treaty Grounds at Paihia.

“I’ve watched the teenagers at the recently opened Māngere bombing pool (Moana-Nui-a Kiwa Leisure Centre) just having a laugh and being cheeky with each other,” says Scott. “That’s considered, by some, to be the birthplace of the manu. You can see it’s their passion.”

South Island bomb champion Jono Horton says it’s taken him years to get consistent.

“I tell people to start with the ‘coffin’ or ‘pencil’ dive with feet straight in, then the ‘can opener’ by holding one knee before trying a full manu.”

He says painful back slaps can be discouraging.

“You need a good mentor to give you advice. There’s so much control and timing involved to create a skinny, high manu splash. When you feel that perfect pop, though, it’s something beautiful.”

Jono’s favourite manu spots are Jellie Park and Lake Rua in Christchurch, Moana Pool in Dunedin, Caroline Bay Trust Aoraki Centre in Timaru and Nayland Park Pool in Nelson.

Water Safety New Zealand warns to look before you leap.

“Check the water depth and that there are no logs or rocks. Rivers often take more lives than beaches. We have some powerful rivers,” says CEO Daniel Gerrard.

“Most importantly, never manu alone. Your mates can call 111 if you get into trouble and it’s nice to have someone to show off your moves to.”

Registrations are now open for the Z Manu World Champs. Five qualifier events in Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton and Auckland will be followed by the final at Auckland’s Viaduct on March 9, 2024.

Competitors are marked on splash height and volume using video software. For the grand final, a ‘Pop Meter’ will measure the decibels of each manu.